European Properties for £250,000

Long-form post serving as supporting content for foreign exchange website blog.

    • Finance
    • ifxpayments.com
    • 12-10-2018

What can £250,000 get you in major European cities?

Despite the UK property market stuttering after the repercussions of Brexit, house prices are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, especially in London.

However, this isn’t the case in many European cities where the housing markets are far more accessible to buyers with small to medium budgets. But what options are there for buyers with a spare £250,000? Here’s an idea of what’s available and where.

Paris

Paris is considered by many to be the perfect buyer’s market. Prices have fallen in the French capital and continue to do so with homes around 9% cheaper than in 2011. Much of this is down to the stagnating French economy and the fact that the French are leaving en-masse.

In short, Paris is a bargain hunter’s paradise. For instance, a one bedroom apartment in the exclusive Saint-Germain neighbourhood will set you back around £240,000 while a ground-floor apartment on the famed Rue Mouffetard costs a slightly more affordable £232,454.

Lisbon

Unlike Paris, Lisbon property prices are on the up thanks to a recovering Portuguese economy. In Lisbon’s metropolitan area for example, prices rose by 3.69% compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, this isn’t bad news for house hunters by any means.

In fact a £250,000 budget can get you considerably more than you would in Paris with a spacious 2-bedroom apartment in Parque das Nacões setting you back about £244,000. There are even townhouses near the centre of Lisbon for around £248,000.

Berlin

Despite rental prices being quite high, the cost of living in Berlin is relatively cheap compared to London. The same is also true when you compare it with other German cities such as Munich and Hamburg.

This is perhaps one of the reasons why some 14,000 Brits have already moved there. £250,000 would be enough to buy a large 1 bedroom flat with a balcony in the Kreuzberg borough of Berlin while £240,000 would be more than enough for a chic 2 bedroom city apartment in Chausseestrasse. As with Lisbon, a medium budget provides purchasers with numerous options.

Prague

The Czech housing market is enjoying a period of growth which is being fuelled by an economic upturn, low mortgage rates and an increase in foreign demand. Prices for luxury apartments in Prague are projected to rise by around 15% until 2018.

However, this shouldn’t be too off-putting for those of you looking to settle in this wonderful city. Centrally located properties aren’t too expensive at the time of writing with a large two-bedroom apartment typically around £260,000.

It’s pretty clear that buying a property in Europe remains a viable option for UK house-hunters. And unlike London with its broken housing market, there are plenty of opportunities for those with medium budgets, even in some of the major European cities. So purchasing on the continent should still be an attractive proposition for those of you looking to join our estranged European neighbours.

Why Croatian property is where the smart money is heading

Croatia has been a prime tourist destination for some time now. The beautiful coast and warm climate have been among the main reasons why thousands of holiday-makers flock to this part of Eastern Europe each year. But Croatia’s appeal is becoming wider these days.

Due to the perennially weak Euro, coupled with depressed property prices, the country which still uses the Kuna is also now a genuine buyer’s market. Like Italy some twenty years ago, prices are extremely low compared to other countries on the continent.

Croatia can boast the fastest growing tourism industry in Europe with thousands of miles of coastline as well as numerous islands scattered across the Adriatic Sea. Most of the coast is also protected thanks to a law which was passed in the 1980s banning development on the waterfront.

As a result, Croatia’s coastline is devoid of the high-rise horrors which overlook the beaches of other European countries such as Spain. This of course proves extremely attractive to overseas buyers looking for a holiday home with many tending to buy near the ocean. In fact, of the 70,000 or so foreign buyers, a large proportion of those own properties by the sea.

In addition to keeping Croatia looking rather beautiful, this law also spells good news for the rental markets. Given the scarcity of resort real estate near the sea, strong rental demands mean that there’s plenty of money to be had in the sub-let market for resort-based property owners.

Indeed, under Croatian tourist regulations, owners are actually obliged to make their apartment or property available for rent when not in use.

For non resort-based properties, things have also been made much easier by rule changes in 2009 which allow foreigners to buy property under the same conditions as Croatians. Previously, overseas house-hunters from EU countries had to go through the ordeal of forming a local company to buy property in its name.

Not so any longer. However, prospective buyers from outside the EU need to have some kind of reciprocal arrangement in place between Croatia and the buyer’s native country. Given recent events, this is of course something which needs to be taken into account by UK property hunters.

Despite some concerns about the housing market after Croatia joined the EU in 2013, as well as the Eurozone crisis, the country’s economy is now recovering, with a 1.2 per cent GDP expansion for the second quarter of 2015. This is having a knock-on effect with the property market also picking up.

Croatia’s high-end residential market is once again attracting more and more foreign buyers with particular interest coming from countries such as Slovenia, Germany and Italy. Destinations such as Dubrovnik have some the most expensive housing markets in Croatia with waterfront villas selling for over €3 million.

There are also affordable locations to suit more modest budgets such as Mljet where properties can be purchased for around €270,000. But regardless of price, Croatia is where the smart money is at right now.

The perks of purchasing property in Provence

Provence is one of the most desirable locations for property hunters in all of France. From the snow-peaked Southern Alps to the flat-lands of the Carmargue, it is a region of profound beauty. Scattered among the fragrant lavender fields and sloping vineyards are a delightful collection of ancient towns and villages such as Arles, Axi and Avignon.

The climate is also rather pleasing too with hot but endurable summers and mild winters. So it’s not surprising that us Brits flock to Provence each year to sample this magnificent French province.

There are numerous advantages of moving to somewhere like Provence. To begin with, there’s a strong expat community which can make the transition to another country that much easier (In fact, the British are the biggest foreign buyers of property in France making up 32.6% of non-resident foreign buyers).

The rural French are rather more approachable than say, Parisians, but they can sometimes take a bit of time getting used to new arrivals. So having somebody who can speak English is a bonus. It is however a good idea to learn at least some basic French before departing. After all, purchasing a property there isn’t just about investing in bricks and mortar but buying into a whole way of life.

Despite the relatively low house prices in France, there are areas within Provence which are rather expensive. It’s a given that places such as Hyères and La Napoule which lie on the Côte d’Azur are going to be rather pricey.

With that said there are plenty of bargains to be found further inland with many buyers attracted by properties requiring renovation. As with the UK, project properties can be acquired for very little money. Obviously, the buyer will need to fork out on restoration work, but it’s often the most cost-effective approach provided all the sums are done correctly.

Although some commentators claim that holiday rentals in France aren’t quite as lucrative as they once were, the same is not necessarily true of Provence. It is admittedly, a rather crowded market, but there’s always going to be a demand for holiday rentals during the spring and summer months.

So there’s a good chance of making a decent income. These days there are plenty of ways of getting a rental property noticed by a wider audience with companies such as Airbnb proving hugely popular among travellers and holiday-makers.

Despite recent events regarding Brexit, France’s housing market is likely to remain strong. The country is an extremely popular destination for overseas buyers (particularly from the UK) and the number of sales is accelerating.

Although there may be a brief lull due to the weakness of the pound, it will in all probability recover, despite what some of the doomsayers predict. A more favourable exchange rate means that overseas buyers will be more emboldened and confident in purchasing French properties. So the future seems bright for Provence house-hunters, provided they exercise a little patience.

How to buy a house in Italy

Italy is an attractive destination for overseas property buyers given the beauty of its landscape and temperate climate. But like any country, there’s a specific process which needs to followed, as well as a few quirks and pitfalls that purchasers should be aware of. So here’s a guide on how to make the process as seamless and stress-free as possible.

Finding a Property

Finding a property isn’t that straightforward if you’ve decided to deal directly with an Italian estate agent. To begin with, they’re not terribly keen on providing descriptive property images for fear of losing their commission.

If you do indentify a property you like, they’ll also insist on accompanying you to the site which can prove rather time-consuming. Patience is the by-word here as you’re going to need their co-operation throughout the process.

Look for Outstanding Debts

Before taking things further, be sure to check that there are no outstanding debts or mortgages connected with the property. Unfortunately, these get passed onto the purchaser.

The Deposit

Once you’re happy that there are no additional costs associated with the property, you will be required to put down a deposit. The proposta d’acquisto as it is known, is basically a short contract which includes a small deposit of anything up to 10 per cent of the sale price.

If there are legal problems the deposit is usually repaid. However, if you the purchaser pulls out before the deal is made the deposit will be lost. If the vendor pulls out, then you can expect to get double the amount of your deposit back.

The Contract

Next comes the contratto preliminare di vendita, which is a legally binding preliminary contract. This stipulates all conditions of the sale including the property description, payments, timing, ownership, rights of-way and so on. Once signed, the purchaser pays around 20% deposit of the property price.

The Notary

Once the deposit is put down and the preliminary contact signed, a notary (notaio) will be appointed. Unlike a conveyancer, the notary is part of an independent legal body that prepares and organises the property searches and deeds while acting on behalf of both the purchaser and vendor.

Completion

Once everything is in order, the final contracts are signed at the notary’s office. In addition, taxes and notary fees are also paid by the purchaser at the signing as well as the balance of the purchase price. After the paperwork is complete, the property will be yours.

Some Tips

Be aware that Italian estate agents charge an astronomical commission, so try to avoid dealing with them if at all possible. You’ll also need to find a convenient and safe method of moving your money to Italy in order to complete your purchase.

Bank charges tend to fluctuate which can have a direct impact on your costs. So it might be worth your while in speaking to a specialist currency company to help you achieve more favourable exchange rates.